EPCOT Introduces Luminous and World Celebration Gardens

The start of December has brought hallmark changes to EPCOT. A multi-year reinvention of the park’s front half is nearing completion. Recently, EPCOT opened a new Neighborhood, World Celebration Gardens. Also, the World Showcase unveiled the permanent replacement for Harmonious. Here’s what you need to know about Luminous The Symphony of Us and World Celebration Gardens.

Luminous Debuts

On October 1st, 2021, Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary. Two of its highlights were spectacular new presentations, Disney KiteTails and Harmonious. 

Neither lasted more than 18 months, which is especially surprising for Harmonious. Management intended that exhibition as a permanent replacement for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Alas, longtime Disney fans didn’t appreciate the eyesore that was the giant Harmonious barge. So, park officials brought back EPCOT Forever and planned a replacement.

The new show, Luminous The Symphony of Us debuted this past week, and fans have praised it more than Harmonious. That doesn’t mean the love for Luminous is unanimous, though. 

Photo Courtesy of WDWNT

Disney has taken a unique approach with the story of Luminous. Most of it unfolds via a combination of narration and music. Also, Luminous adopts a different approach from most nighttime presentations.

This presentation proves more emotional but less joyful than many of your favorites. Disney would rather give you the feels rather than leave you laughing. You can tell by Luminous’s soundtrack:

  • Heartbeat Symphony (Created for Luminous)
  • You’ll Be in My Heart
  • Proud Corazón
  • You’ve Got a Friend in Me
  • Friend Like Me
  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  • So Close
  • When She Loved Me
  • Remember Me
  • Into the Unknown
  • I See the Light
  • Beating of Our Hearts (Created for Luminous)

You can watch the entire performance here:

At the 8:45-minute mark of the clip, you’ll notice the difference in this show’s music. Many of the songs are covers or remixes of your favorites. Some fans quite like the novel tone of Luminous, while others find it a bit somber for the ending of an EPCOT visit. You can visit the show during your next visit to decide for yourself.

World Celebration Gardens Debuts

The more permanent change at EPCOT has occurred at the front of the park. Fifteen years from now, Luminous probably won’t be the primary presentation at World Showcase Lagoon. However, guests will still visit World Celebration Gardens.

This Neighborhood has debuted in the section of EPCOT that has historically comprised its central spine. It’s where the now-defunct Fountain of Nations resided. Disney has reimagined the area to make it more of a hangout spot.

You’ll now find lush gardens, trees, and other shrubbery. It’s an oasis hidden near the middle of EPCOT. In fact, you’ll find World Celebration Gardens right beside Creations Shop and Connections Café and Eatery. 

This new section consists of what you’ve always wanted at the former Future World: seating areas!!! Disney has added chairs and tables here, which fundamentally changes the approach at the front of the park. Management is encouraging you to spend time here rather than pushing you along to the next attraction.

You’ll even find USB charging stations at some of the tables. So, this place is now the chosen spot for reenergizing your smart device while you bask in the idyllic setting, one that will somewhat remind you of the grounds at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. 

Still, you shouldn’t get your hopes up about what you’ll experience here. Thus far, the primary “attractions” are a pair of character greetings. Daisy Duck and Pluto are currently meeting guests at World Celebration Gardens.

In fact, the biggest draw, at least during the daytime, is a statue at Dreamers Point. In this section of the gardens, you’ll find Walt the Dreamer, a statue that shows Walt Disney appreciating the majesty of EPCOT, a park he invented but didn’t live long enough to witness in person. 

Photo Courtesy of WDWNT

You can take a picture with Walt, although I should warn you that this photo op has proven quite popular. Opening week visitors had to wait for upwards of an hour for their picture. I presume the lines will gradually die down, though. 

World Celebration Gardens Does Tricks

You’ll enjoy World Celebration Gardens during a daytime visit, although you may find it a bit lackluster. That’s been the early reception, but everyone’s opinion changes once the sun sets. At night, World Celebration Gardens reveals its secret.

Imagineers have constructed the Neighborhood to accentuate the beauty of Spaceship Earth. Specifically, many parts of World Celebration Gardens glow in the dark. They work in tandem with the Beacons of Light on Spaceship Earth. This video underscores the stunning nighttime transformation:

Disney has added in-ground LED strips and lights to accentuate the effect. Also, the lamp posts and other poles in the region feature similar technology. The end result is that World Celebration Gardens becomes an extension of the Beacons of Light, making an evening spent at EPCOT that much more magical. 

While not everyone is in love with the simplicity and utility of World Celebration Gardens during the day, you’ll find universal consent about its nighttime brilliance. This is now an exceptional place to spend the evening. Disney has reinvigorated this section of the park with a relaxing daytime setting and a vibrant nighttime view. 

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